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Family Risk Evaluation Program

Family Risk Evaluation Program

What are your chances of developing cancer?

Having a family history of cancer can increase your risk or your family's risk of developing these cancers. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cancers are considered to be hereditary and are due to an altered gene that is passed on from one generation to the next. Another 10 to 20% of cancers are considered to be familial and are due to a combination of several genetic and environmental risk factors shared among family members.

Learning that you have an increased risk for developing cancer can enable you to take steps to lower that risk. These measures include increased surveillance for early detection and other preventative medical and surgical options.

The goal of the Family Risk Evaluation Program at the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center is to help individuals and their families learn more about risk factors associated with breast, ovarian, colon, uterine and other types of cancer. Participants will learn up-to-date information about their risk factors, hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing, as well as screening and prevention options to reduce their risk.

What is included in the Family Risk Evaluation Program?

Participants meet with a certified licensed genetic counselor specially trained in cancer genetic counseling. The genetic counselor is available to help individuals make informed decisions about genetic testing and follow-up care and will not try to persuade individuals to have or to avoid genetic testing. During the visit, the genetic counselor will review the participant's medical and family history, assess and explain his or her risk for hereditary cancers, assess the chance of finding an altered gene through genetic testing, and discuss the benefits, risks, and limitations of genetic testing.  The genetic counselor will also interpret genetic tests results, if genetic testing is ordered, and explain the meaning of the test results for the participant and his or her family members. The genetic counselor will review cancer screening and prevention options available to the participant and his or her family members based on their family history and/or genetic test results. 

Who is eligible to participate in the Family Risk Evaluation Program?

Anyone 18 years or older, with a personal or family history of cancer may participate in the program. 

Individuals with a personal or family history of any of the following criteria should consider cancer risk genetic counseling:

  • Known mutation in a cancer susceptibly gene has been identified in the family
  • Breast, colon, or uterine cancer diagnosed before the age of 50
  • Triple negative breast cancer
  • Several family members with the same or related forms of cancer.  Related cancers may include breast, ovarian, pancreatic, aggressive prostate, uterine, thyroid, colorectal, urinary tract, biliary tract, brain, small intestinal, and stomach cancer, as well as sarcoma and  adrenocortical carcinoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Multiple colon polyps
  • Breast, ovarian, and/or pancreatic cancer in an individual of Eastern European Jewish ancestry
  • Bilateral cancer or multiple primary cancers in one individual

If you would like more information about the
Family Risk Evaluation Program at the
St. Mary Regional Cancer Center,
please contact the Coordinator at: